Septic Service Syracuse

Why should I get it pumped?

It’s out there, buried beneath the back yard, constantly working. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, your septic system is the most overlooked and under-valued utility in your home. Most homeowners don’t give much thought to what happens when waste goes down the drain. If you rely on a septic system, what you don’t know can hurt you. Just like getting the oil changed in your car, preventative maintenance on your septic system can have a large impact on how well it works and how long it lasts. The lack of maintaining your system could result in the system failing which leads to some serious issues.

There are 2 main reasons why septic system maintenance is important:

  • The first reason is you and your family’s health. In a failing system, the untreated waste water is released into the environment making some very unpleasant odors and a soggy lawn. It could reach the groundwater carrying bacteria and viruses in areas with wells and drinking water sources. Many serious outbreaks have been caused by contaminated drinking water.
  • The second reason is money. Replacing or repairing a failing septic system can be very expensive. It could cost well over $10,000 to replace a system compared to the minimal yearly cost to have the system routinely pumped and inspected.

The Process

 

A septic system is more than a disposal system, it’s a living ecosystem. All plumbing drains feed into the septic system. Toilets, Showers, Sinks, Dishwashers, & Washing Machines all contribute to the waste that goes into your tank through the house sewer. It passes through the inlet baffle entering the tank. Here is where the breakdown process begins.

When sewage enters the septic tank, the heavy solids settle to the bottom of the tank; the lighter solids, fats and greases partially decompose and rise to the surface and form a layer of scum. The solids that have settled to the bottom are attacked by bacteria and form sludge. Septic tanks do not remove bacteria and, therefore, what is discharged cannot be considered safe.

The liquid that is in the middle of the top scum layer and the sludge on the bottom passes through the outlet baffle in into the distribution box. This serves to distribute the flow from the septic tank evenly to the absorption field or seepage pits. It is important that each trench or pit receive an equal amount of flow. This prevents overloading of one part of the system.

There is always going to be liquids in the tank. The sludge on the bottom is what is most important to remove on a frequent basis. If the sludge builds up and reaches the outlet baffle in the tank, problems with clogging, backing up, and system failure will occur.

Definitions

  • House Sewer – The pipeline connecting the house and the septic tank.

  • Septic Tank – Untreated liquid household wastes (sewage) will quickly clog your absorption field if not properly treated. The septic tank provides this needed treatment. When sewage enters the septic tank, the heavy solids settle to the bottom of the tank; the lighter solids, fats and greases partially decompose and rise to the surface and form a layer of scum. The solids that have settled to the bottom are attacked by bacteria and form sludge. Septic tanks do not remove bacteria and, therefore, what is discharged cannot be considered safe.

  • Distribution Box – Serves to distribute the flow from the septic tank evenly to the absorption field or seepage pits. It is important that each trench or pit receive an equal amount of flow. This prevents overloading of one part of the system.

  • Absorption Field – A system of narrow trenches partially filled with a bed of washed gravel or crushed stone into which perforated or open joint pipe is placed. The discharge from the septic tank is distributed through these pipes into the trenches and surrounding soil. The subsurface absorption field must be properly sized and constructed to assure satisfactory operation and a long life.

  • Seepage Pit – A covered pit with a perforated or open-jointed lining through which the discharge from the septic tank infiltrates into the surrounding soil. It is generally installed in sandy or gravel-type soils. Like the absorption field, the seepage pit also must be properly sized and constructed. While seepage pits normally require less land area to install, they should be used only where absorption fields are not suitable and well water supplies are not endangered.

F.A.Q’s

Septic systems are considered to be on-site systems designed to safely dispose of biological sanitary waste (all waste water from a household).
Basically a septic system provides a ‘holding Tank’ where natural bacterial action decomposes human waste products into environmentally acceptable components the major end-components being water, mixed with some other components that are not readily consumed by the bacterial action, gases, and undigested solids. The end products, except the undigested solids, are then discharged to the on-site environment through the absorption field.
The New York Department of health Operational & Maintenance Manual says the contents of the septic tank should be pumped every 2-3 years or when the total depth of sludge & scum exceeds 1/3 of the liquid depth of the tank. If the tank is not cleaned periodically, the solids are carried into the absorption field; rapid clogging occurs; premature failure follows; and finally, the absorption field must be replaced. Pumping your septic tank is less expensive than replacing your absorption field.
A conventional septic system has the house plumbing, a septic tank (typically 750 to 2000 gallons), distribution box, and a leach absorption field (perforated pipe buried shallow in an extended area).
Septic tanks may be made of concrete (typical) , fiberglass, plastic or steel (older style).
The concrete, plastic, fiberglass or sometimes steel (older style) septic tank is buried in the ground, usually a minimum of 10 feet from the house. The top of the tank is usually about 8″-24″ below the soil surface so it can be periodically opened for inspection and pumping. The septic cover or lid access for service & pumping is approx 18″ round or square up to 24″x48″, the tank size is approx 8’x6’x6′. The 4″ pipe vent that sticks through the ground is not access for service or pumping & only serves as a vent & a locator for your septic tank. If you do not know for sure where the tank is located, locate where the house sewer pipe leaves the house. In a house with a basement, this is where the pipe passes through the wall. Locating the exit point may be more difficult for a house with no basement. If the pipe exit can be found, the tank normally begins about 10 feet from the house outside wall and in line with the house sewer pipe. If the soil is not frozen, the tank can be located by pushing a slender metal rod into the ground until it hits the buried tank. An inexpensive metal rod about 1/8 inch in diameter for can be purchased at most hardware stores. Be careful when probing for the tank and avoid hammering the metal rod into the ground – you could break a sewer pipe.
Experts agree, properly maintained septic system discharges treated effluent directly into the ground, where its close contact with soil results in additional purification. A central sewerage system discharges very large volumes of treated effluent into a body of water at one location.
The biggest reason is from improper maintenance, by not having your tank pumped & serviced on a regular 2-3 year basis. The solids build up in the septic tanks & then get passed to the leach field & clog the leach system. If the liquid effluent cannot soak into the soil surrounding the leach absorption field, sewage may back up into the system and overflow into the house or puddle on the surface of the ground. There are several possible causes for this problem.
You can expect a conventional septic system, such as that being described here, to last about 25-30 years. Some systems last much longer and some systems can fail earlier for reasons like those noted above. Other things can also affect the life of a septic system. For example, a system may have been providing satisfactory service for a previous owner for many years, only to fail shortly after you have bought the house. If the previous owners were a working couple with no children, the system was probably not heavily used; if yours is a family of six, the added load could push a marginal system over the edge and into failure.
Yes there are many things that should not be flushed; cigarette butts, cotton swabs, cat box litter, sanitary napkins or tampons, disposable diapers, baby wipes, condoms, & any other non-biodegradable products.
Under normal use detergents, cleaning products, and bleach will not damage the septic system. However, homeowners should be aware that if excessive amounts of these products are used, the naturally growing bacteria in the septic tank may be killed. Homeowners with heavy usage of these products or with the growing use of Anti-bacterial soaps & cleaners you may want to consider using a biological enhancer to ensure the proper bacteriological environment.